..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Letting God Rescue Us : A Lakeside Fish Tale

Recently, I was at the lakeside home of a friend. With the really, really hot and oppressive temperatures we have had here in New England, it was
nice to sit by the lake and just relax, until, well.  What you need to know is
that I have spent a good deal of my adult life doing dog rescue, and had even  
met this particular friend through our many years of saving dogs from unnecessarily premature deaths. I have tried to put the "rescue" part in a much smaller part of my life but somehow it keeps popping up. So now it is  fish rescue.

The tale unfolds thus: 

There is a tiny stream that feeds into the lake on my friend's property. It gradually slopes down from the road into the lake, with little pockets that
fill up with water when it rains or water drains into it. Well, OK, so another
friend and I were relaxing nicely until she saw that some little fish had
been caught in the stream pockets that were rapidly drying up and extremely hot. So on went the rescue hats!  We spent quite awhile trying to rescue the little ones from impending death. The "quite awhile" part came because the small fish were either unaware of their certain doom or were aware of it but still content to stay where they were and hope for the best.

They would do their utmost to hide from us, and with trying to find them, a lot
of silt muddied the water, making it worse for all of us.  We could see the
dead bodies of two fish whose little pondette had already dried up. Too late! 
And we knew time was of the essence for the others.  One by one we captured them and put them in the lake, running quickly lest they jump out of the net
to another kind of demise. They fought us all the way, flipping and jumping
out of the little mesh screen we used to try and scoop them up with. But then, 
as they were put in the large lake, after a few minutes of adjustment and 
gill-full of fresh oxygen, they darted merrily into the depths. 

I started to think about this and suddenly knew God was trying to show me
something.  These little fish had set off in a spirit of adventure and ended
up getting trapped in a stifling pool that was drying up. Yet, they fought
those who would try to help them out and hid from them.  Slowly, they would suffocate if they did not get out.  They were determined but we were also determined because we knew what they did not know.  

How much is this like our life with God? We often set out in search of 
new ground, not knowing its dangers. We end up, off track, trapped in a small pool that will slowly suffocate us. God comes to rescue us, putting His Hands underneath us and scooping us out of the situation back into the expansive and wonderful depths of the Big Lake, and yet we try to evade Him and flip out of His Hands. Our little world has become stifling but there we sit in it, our original sense of adventure drying up with every passing minute because we are getting less and less oxygen to think and act clearly!  Our sense of self-preservation can sometimes work completely against us.

In our lives with God, there is time we must be willing to get out of our stifling, rotting ponds--waters that we may have gotten into because of our own silliness or even our good intentions, but from which God must rescue us or we will die. Let us trust His hands in the changes He brings us to. They are surely meant for our good--to bring life to us.  And let us, too, be aware of the little ones around us who are inches away from death, those who, also, need God's rescue, 'til we all swim happily in that Big Ocean of God in the sky. :)


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wearing Out the Saints of the Most High

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Daniel 7:25

The prophet Daniel writes these words as he sees future events unfolding to him in  a vision scarier
than a horror movie. He is greatly agitated because this is not a movie, but a warning and a preview
of what will happen in the latter days. Daniel sees the Antichrist rising, and he sees these two things:
that the Antichrist will "speak great words against the Most High" and "shall wear out the saints of the most  High."  These words are written for our benefit and we need to take heed to what it is they
are warning us about.

The enemy of our souls has many techniques that he uses against the saints of God.  In this verse
it says that he shall "wear out" the saints of the most High.  Life can be a long journey. We start
out well, but the question is, will we finish well? It is question we all must prepare to answer with a
resounding "yes!"   It is the strategy of the devil, even now, to wear us out, bit by bit, without our
noticing how drained we have gotten. And from the looks of it, he is winning a lot of ground. Jesus tells us, in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25), that five were very foolish and did not labor to prepare for the long period of darkness that came while they were waiting for the bridegroom. The darkness was longer than they expected and took more preparation then they realized

In this parable Jesus places both the responsibility of preparation and the blame of  not preparing, on the virgins themselves. So in this it is important to see that while the devil is our enemy, we are the ones who decide what will happen to us.

The Antichrist (and the apostle John has told us that many antichrists are already in the world at work) will wear out or wear down the saints.  Have you ever been so tired that you could make no
effort? Have you ever been so discouraged that you could not get up? God gives to His servants
all that they need to accomplish His will. But that impartation can be whittled away. How does this happen? In several ways! In the first part of verse 25 it says that the Antichrist will speak "great words against the most High."

Even now many words are spoken against the most high and we feel the affects of them.  People live in godless ways and speak of godless things. In Ezekiel 13, God speaks against false prophets who speak in such a way that the righteous are made sad and discouraged:  "Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life " (Ezekiel 13:7) . Here it is not even the heathen that are speaking with  ungodliness but false prophets who say they are from God! Let the reader ponder this!

To hear things that grieve the heart of God, and to see things that grieve the heart of God wears
upon the souls of the godly.  This exposure to evil is not going away and is promised to increase as we near the day of the Lord's victorious return,  so we must learn to guard our hearts with the truth that God will soon blow away the wicked and His kingdom of goodness will be an everlasting one. The problem and effects of evil will be with us until the Lord's coming but we must see past the temporal and encourage our hearts in the eternal.

A second way that we are worn down is to spend our time and resources on that which does not
satisfy.   God asks, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live (Isaiah 55: 2 &3). 

God admonishes us to incline our ears to listen to Him and to delight ourselves in rich food!
I am sure that He does not mean cheesecake! We must feed upon the rich food of the Word,
upon meat and not milk. Milk is not meant to sustain an adult whether spiritually or naturally.
If we are only nibbling at empty tidbits and the words of men, rather than learning to eat for 
ourselves from the grand buffet of God's meaty word, than we will soon be weak and thus, will
 be worn out. Satan seeks to rob us by putting spiritual junk food in front of us. Thinking we are full we soon fall flat because we have no nutrients. 

Another way that we get worn out is to do more than God has asked us to. Jesus said,   
 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19).
So often we think that "more" is more valuable spiritually. So often we do not ask God if He
wants us to do something, we just do it thinking it is a good idea. So often we buy into the world's idea of what a full life is: to be busy is to be someone important and to be living life with gusto.
This will soon wear us down to a thread. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing and 
showing Him to do.  And so often we are lured into busyness by the will of others and made to
feel bad if we do not pipe to their musical cacophony.  So let us be careful.

There, also, are seasons in life when things swing out of control and we are thrown into situations that will wear us down and there is nothing we can do about it--but that should not be ALL  of our life.  God allows certain of these ordained seasons to see if we will draw on His strength. During these times we draw upon the wells of  deep water in our spirits -- hours and days of time we have spent with God in quiet and confidence during quieter days and from the Holy Spirit who ministers grace in due season.  It is that stockpile that carries us through.

These seasons are times of testing and times when we learn more fully to not trust in our own strength but in the merciful strength that God has planted within us for such a season.  Later, when the trial is over, there is time when God gives us a chance to rest and we must take it and see its value as equally important to our busiest God-ordained movement. Our strength needs constant replenishing. If we let our strength run dry we will be like the foolish virgins whose lamp goes out just when it is most needed. This is  the plan of the enemy and  a most important consideration for all of us in these days.